Flashes in ‘desperation’ mode vs. Hillcrest

Published 8:00 am Thursday, October 12, 2017

It would be easy for St. Aloysius to go into Friday night’s football game against winless Hillcrest Christian confident and already chalking up a victory.

That would be a mistake, coach Michael Fields warned. Times are too dire to treat it as anything but the must-win game it is.

The Flashes (2-6, 2-1 District 3-AAA) are still clinging to life in both the District 3-AAA championship and the MAIS Class AAA wild card races. To have any chance at either, however, they need to go on the road and take care of Hillcrest (0-8, 0-4).

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“It’s hard not to get up for them, because the word this week is ‘desperation.’ We need some wins,” Fields said. “There’s not much we can overlook because we’ve only won two games.”

Both of those have been in the district, which is paying dividends. St. Al could still finish in a three-way tie for the district title with Riverfield (7-1, 4-0) and Central Hinds (5-3, 3-1) by winning its last two games.

Central Hinds would likely win a three-way tiebreaker, but also has one district game left this week against Park Place. If Central Hinds loses, next week’s St. Al-Riverfield game would be for the title.

St. Al is also currently ranked 18th in the MAIS power point rankings that determine and seed the 16-team Class AAA playoff bracket. Even if it can’t win the district title and an automatic berth, St. Al can still earn a wild card spot by winning its last two games.

“No doubt about it, if we’re going to get in we have to win,” Fields said. “I don’t feel like there’s anybody we can’t play with. We just played Cathedral tough. We played Central Hinds tough. We played (Adams Christian) tough. If anybody played the schedule we’ve played, their record might look like ours.”

Fortunately, the Flashes do get a brief reprieve from that difficult schedule by facing Hillcrest.

Hillcrest has already clinched its 11th consecutive losing season, and is closing in fast on its third winless season since 2008. The Cougars have only scored more than one touchdown once this year and have lost by at least 26 points in every game.

“They spread the field well and play well on defense. They just have the same problem we have, and that’s no depth,” Fields said. “A game that might be six or 10 points at halftime ends up being 30 points because they wear down.”

St. Al has, however, been able to be more competitive despite only having about 20 players on the varsity roster and few that are big enough to control a game on the line. St. Al has led or been within one score in six of its eight games at some point in the second half, but has only won two of them.

The losses include last week’s 32-27 defeat against Cathedral, when the Flashes allowed 25 points and touchdowns on four of five possessions in the second half.

“We took a lot of positives out of it. We played a good team and were in it until the last minute of the game. Our biggest problem is depth up front,” Fields said. “Our big problem is, when somebody comes off the field we don’t have somebody to put on the field in their place.”

About Ernest Bowker

Ernest Bowker is The Vicksburg Post's sports editor. He has been a member of The Vicksburg Post's sports staff since 1998, making him one of the longest-tenured reporters in the paper's 140-year history. The New Jersey native is a graduate of LSU. In his career, he has won more than 50 awards from the Mississippi Press Association and Associated Press for his coverage of local sports in Vicksburg.

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